The Oregon Ducks defeated the Washington State Cougars, 51-26, at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Saturday night. Oregon pulled away in the third quarter to put the game away after the Cougars stayed close in the first half.
Oregon did what they usually do in blowing the game wide open in the second half. A touchdown drive on the first drive in the third quarter followed by a pick-six and suddenly the game was over with 23 minutes to go. That's how fast it happened.
The first half was fun. WSU fell down 20-3 in the first quarter, and it looked like Oregon was going to put up West Virginia-type points. The Cougs fought back. The defense held, as the offense made some drives and closed to 23-19 on a touchdown pass from Connor Halliday to Brett Bartolone with just over five minutes left in the the second quarter.
The defense made another stop, and the offense drove inside the 20 on a first down conversion from Marquess Wilson. It looked liked the Cougs were poised to take the lead before halftime,
Three straight sacks followed, and the Cougars were never close again.
There were certainly some good things to take away from this game. The interior lineman were awesome. Ioane Gauta and Xavier Cooper blew up many Oregon plays, and were a big reason for three consecutive stops in the first half.
The Cougars didn't allow a big play until an 80-yard touchdown run by Kenjon Barner in the fourth quarter. That sucked, but considering how much faster the Ducks are than the Cougs, it was impressive that the WSU defense could keep the game in front of them for the most part.
Anyone who wants to challenge Wilson for his attitude or whatever after this game, feel free to re-watch how the junior worked his ass off in the second half. He made himself available to Halliday (and Tuel) time and time again, and finished with 12 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown.
Drops were certainly a problem for the wide receivers. Mark will have more on that later this week.
Connor got beat up this game. He took no less than a dozen hits and limped off the field for good in the second half. At that time, it became apparent that Jeff Tuel has recovered from his knee injury, as he came in to replace Halliday.
Tuel's first throw was a touchdown pass to Wilson. It was somewhat uncharacteristic for Jeff, as he threw into double coverage, but it worked out pretty well.
In the end, this was a blowout, but not the blowout we all thought it would be. Oregon had to work for it, and needed some big plays in the second half to pull away. The first half was fun, and at least for a few minutes the Cougs showed they can compete with one of the top teams in the country. WSU covered the spread, which gives Kyle Sherwood a win for once.
Finally, props to Gino Simone, who caught five passed for 65 yards. He has had a rough time at WSU, never living up to his expectations, so it was nice to see him have some success tonight. Also, props to Oregon. The Ducks are good.